Sex is a touchy topic and often talked about in hushed tones, even among married couples. However, it is important to discuss the subject openly, especially in marriages, or the union may continue to have lingering issues that could lead to relationship dissatisfaction.
Without regular intercourse and sexual intimacy, married couples can easily fall out of love. The couple will soon start seeing themselves as mere companions, roommates, or even friends rather than a loving, romantic, and caring couple. This can lead to serious havoc in the marital union as the emotional connection from being sexually intimate is missing.
Incompatibility in sexual desires and needs usually snowballs into frequent conflicts in marriages, and the couple may begin to wonder whether it is worth staying in the marriage.
This article will share 8 signs to help you know when to walk away from sexless marriage. But first, let’s clarify the term “sexless marriage” so that we can be on the same page.
What Is a Sexless Marriage?
It is normal to experience a decline in physical intimacy and sex in marriage after the first few years, especially when children come into the picture. However, when there is no physical intimacy and sexual intimacy seems to be a distant memory, you might be in a sexless marriage.
A sexless marriage is where the couple hasn’t had sex in one year or more. Some experts also define a sexless marriage as a marriage where sex happens less than ten times a year.
Of course, sexual intimacy between married couples may go through the occasional “dry spell” where both partners have little to no interest in a sexual relationship for a short period. Even in a healthy marriage, this is normal and could result from life’s struggles and stress, so it doesn’t count as a sexless marriage.
And although a sexless marriage may sound like a bad thing, it isn’t a problem if the married couple is happy. A sexless marriage doesn’t necessarily mean there is no love in your relationship, but it often frustrates one or both partners in many cases.
Come to think of it, how many times should a married couple have sex per week – once, twice, or daily? What is the normal sex frequency in a healthy marriage?
The truth is that there is no “normal” when it comes to these things. What’s normal for one couple may not work for another couple. The most important thing is finding what feels satisfying and fulfilling for you and your partner.
While there is no universally accepted sex frequency for married couples, several studies suggest that many young couples (age 20 to 30) tend to have sex around twice a week, while older adults (age 40 to 50) average around once a week.
Sex frequency can be affected by factors like age and the overall health of the individuals (such as disability, mental health issues, and medical problems).
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re having less sex than what most people consider “normal,” but you and your partner are fine with it, and your marriage isn’t affected by it, you have nothing to worry about.
However, if infrequent sex is causing unending conflict in your marriage, look out for the following telltale signs and decide whether it is best to go your separate ways.
When to Walk Away from Sexless Marriage: 8 Warning Sings
1. You Feel Strong Resentment Toward Your Spouse
It is expected that couples enjoy a healthy sex life, so it is normal to feel frustrated if this isn’t the case.
However, if lack of sexual intercourse makes you feel an all-consuming resentment toward your significant other, it might be best to walk away from that union. Remaining in the marriage can wreak havoc on your self-confidence and even affect your physical health.
But before you end a marriage because of a lack of bedroom activities, you should consider open and down-to-earth communication. Letting your partner know your frustration can reduce negative feelings on your part and may even help your significant other seek ways to improve their sex life.
Unfortunately, honest communication doesn’t usually solve the problem. Your best bet might be to protect your physical, mental, and emotional health by leaving the deep-seated toxicity in your unhappy marriage behind.
2. Your Partner Doesn’t See a Need to Improve Their Sex Life
Speaking of honest communication, one of the first steps to finding a solution to a sexless marriage is having a heart-to-heart talk with your spouse about the situation.
Tell them about your needs and desires and let them know that infrequent or the absence of sex and sexual intimacy in your relationship is not okay with you. Suggest going for couple counseling if possible.
However, if your partner continuously shies away from talking about the issue and doesn’t make any effort to improve their sex life, you might need to take steps to protect your sanity. An unwillingness to go to a sex therapist or get counseling combined with a reluctance to discuss the topic shows a lack of cooperation. You may be better off ending the marriage unless you can cope without sex.
I should add that having open and honest communication is not about blaming or attacking your significant other for their inadequacies between the sheets.
Remember to keep the conversation positive, so your partner doesn’t think you’re merely looking for an excuse to end the marriage. Keep in mind that the primary goal is not breakup; rather, it is finding a lasting solution to the issue of a sexless marriage.
3. The Issue Bothers Around Infidelity
It is difficult to feel any sexual desire for your partner if you know they are cheating. This will most likely lead to a sexless marriage because it is difficult to gain trust once it is broken.
While some people continue in the marriage perhaps because of their children, staying in a relationship without trusting your partner might not be healthy, especially if you believe that things can never go back to the way they were.
The lack of trust will eventually degenerate into many unresolved issues, and the growing suspicion can make the relationship unbearable for both you and your partner.
Whether it is a man that’s unfaithful to his wife or the other way round, it is difficult to be genuinely intimate with someone you don’t fully trust.
The partner who was cheated on may file for a divorce, and that’s to be expected. However, the unfaithful spouse can choose to end the relationship.
A partner who is aware of their spouse’s infidelity but continues the relationship might refuse to get intimate. It shows that they don’t trust their spouse enough to be intimate with them, which will likely create more problems in the marriage if it continues for a long time.
If infidelity (on your part or your spouse’s part) is the reason for the lack of sex in your marriage, separation or divorce might be in the best interests of you and your partner.
4. You Prefer to Have Sex With Someone Else
A sexless marriage doesn’t necessarily mean the couples are completely rid of sexual desires. They may not feel sexually attracted to each other, but the urge to be intimate with someone else may be present.
That’s not to say sexual fantasies about someone else automatically mean you have fallen out of love with your spouse. Sexual fantasies could simply be temptations, and that’s normal.
However, if you start to look for physical intimacy outside your marriage, it is clear that it’s time to walk away from that union.
Of course, making that decision isn’t usually easy, but continuing in a sexless marriage won’t help fulfill your needs and desires, and it certainly won’t get rid of your attraction to another person. Besides, it is better to end an unfulfilling marriage than to commit adultery.
You don’t want to punish yourself with the guilt of infidelity, and most importantly, you shouldn’t have to live with resentment in a no longer satisfying relationship.
5. Your Partners Uses Sex to Manipulate You
Some people use sex and sexual intimacy to control their spouses, manipulating them into doing or agreeing to what they normally won’t.
Denying or withholding sex as a passive-aggressive tactic to maintain control over a relationship is a form of psychological abuse, and that’s not healthy for your marriage. The relationship will eventually be sexless when the partner gets fed up with the manipulation.
If communications to resolve the problem aren’t yielding any positive results, it might be in your best interest to walk away from that marriage.
6. Your Sexual Desires Are Not Compatible
Many couples discover that their sexual preferences are worlds apart. Unfortunately, this discovery may come a few years into marriage after the initial fiery passion and intense infatuation have subsided.
It can be very frustrating when it seems as if your spouse is always not in the mood for sexual activities, but this is the reality you might be stuck with if your sex drive is considerably higher than your spouse’s low sex drive.
If you discover that your sexual desires and preferences are permanently incompatible, you might want to consider ending the marriage rather than enduring a never-ending cycle of rejection.
7. You Have Both Drifted Apart
It is not uncommon for two people who were once madly in love to feel nothing but ill will and a strong dislike for each other. If there is no love lost between you and your partner, it is almost impossible to have loving sexual intimacy.
Several reasons can make couples drift apart, including dishonesty, neglect, non-communication, and suppressed emotions.
However, some couples may drift apart for reasons that aren’t necessarily negative.
For example, you and your spouse may have conflicting life interests. If the conflict can’t be resolved, perhaps because you both believe your decisions are in your best interests, your marriage will probably feel like a suffocating rut.
You’ll naturally start drifting apart, and your sex life will gradually take the back burner. Ending the union would be a better option than spending the rest of your life in such a sexless relationship.
8. Health Issues Prevent Sexual Activities
Some health problems can make it difficult for some spouses to satisfy their partner’s sexual needs.
For example, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) don’t always enjoy sex in many cases. Some men with erectile dysfunction might find it difficult to function properly in the bedroom, leading to low self-esteem and decreased sexual interest.
In worse cases, some chronic health problems can completely hinder sexual intercourse between a married couple in an otherwise happy marriage.
If your partner has an incurable health condition preventing them from satisfying you sexually, it might be better to go your separate ways. This is one case when walking away from sexless marriage might be very difficult because it can feel as if you’re abandoning your partner when they need you the most.
Here’s the thing, though.
Continuing in a relationship out of pity isn’t usually a healthy decision, especially if you feel “trapped” in a loveless marriage where your sexual needs can’t be met. This type of relationship often leads to resentment, blame, and regrets. It might even lead to infidelity if your sexual desires are very strong but can’t be satisfied by your ailing spouse.
While loving and caring for your partner “in sickness and in health” is praiseworthy, spending the rest of your life in self-pity and self-blame isn’t worth it.
You must be ready to love your partner unconditionally if you choose to stay in a sexless marriage, although your spouse has a chronic health issue that prevents them from being intimate with you. If this isn’t something you are ready to do, you don’t have to subject yourself to a sexless life as a married couple. Simply end the marriage amicably.
Marriage is a beautiful union, so I suggest thinking of divorce as a last resort. If you’ve determined that a sexless marriage isn’t for you, divorce might be a good option.
Thankfully, you now know when to walk away from a sexless marriage after going through these eight signs. If you are unsure, I recommend talking with a marriage therapist or counselor for further assistance.